At just 23, Emma Roberts (“It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” “The Art of Getting By,”
“Celeste and Jesse Forever”) is about the same age her aunt Julia was
when she shot to stardom with the iconic hit “Pretty Woman.” But times
have changed, and in Emma’s latest rom-com — Scott Coffey’s “Adult
World,” which premiered last year at the 2013 Tribeca Film
Festival — she plays not a hooker with a heart of gold, but a virginal
Roberts is Amy, a post-collegiate aspiring poet who lives in snowy
upstate New York with her parents; what she lacks in life experience
she makes up for in pluck and aspiration. Her inability to be
self-sufficient will feel familiar to a lot of 20-somethings, as
today’s economy has created a state of delayed adulthood;
coming-of-age so rarely happens at 18 anymore.
When Amy’s parents pull the financial plug on her dreams of fame and
fortune as a poet (as if!), she is forced to find a menial job to pay
the bills. She ends up at the titular adult video store, where she
meets an array of colorful characters: John Cullum and Cloris
Leachman, an elderly couple who aren’t afraid of a little PDA; Evan
Peters, a stable, nice guy with hidden talents; and Rubia (a deliriously good Armando Riesco), a
hairdresser/drag queen with, yes, a heart of gold.
Amy also discovers the work of Rat Billings (John Cusack), an
alcoholic has-been writer. After some won’t-take-no-for-an-answer
stalking, he reluctantly agrees to mentor Amy, while not-so-politely
discouraging her from pursuing her dreams. Cusack’s whole performance
is a sly wink at an audience that fondly remembers his oeuvre, and
he’s still got it in spades.
We spoke to Emma Roberts during Tribeca last year about her generation’s
fascination with fame and oversharing, John Cusack’s charms, and the
frozen tundra of Syracuse. “Adult World” is open in limited release now.
“My character Amy… she’s really neurotic, really high strung, has really good intentions, but leaves a trail of destruction behind her. She kinda has this ignorance to the real world.”